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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Monday, April 12, 2010

College Graduates in Crisis

College Graduates in Crisis

“There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance.

As a soon to be graduate, naturally I, like ever other senior on the planet, has been obsessing over the devastatingly uncertain course of my future. Now I am not naïve of the current state of affairs in our country, and the daunting jobless market. I have no misconceptions or illusions of having an excellent job, which covers my bills and gives me benefits. Regardless, upon opening my yahoo Tuesday evening I was met with the headline of the Wall Street Journal, “College Grads’ Outlook Grim.”
Needless to say I already knew what the depressing information the article would contain, but the same morbid fascination that makes it hard to look away from a slasher film prompted me to continue reading. The article goes onto elaborate that career fair recruiting has gone down as much as 25% at various universities known for facilitating post-graduation job fairs. Various employers are taking to looking at students in the fall of their senior year, and some seniors have even taken to applying to various jobs a solid 9 months before their graduation. And even these jobs mentioned are few, far between, and “unevenly distributed” as the article elaborates.

But this led me to question what about those of us who are graduating now and whose desired professions will only look at your resume once you are graduated? I’d like to think that I’m fairly educated on the current state of our economy and the basic reason for this deficit, despite being complex, is fairly simple: it is the result of poor decision making by our citizens and poor government surveillance-law enforcement by our government’s officials. If it wasn’t a major land developer who bought land that decreased in value and had no one to develop and went bankrupt that is to blame for this current state of our economy, then it’s the countless millions who seem to confuse credit cards with real cash and have understanding of the definition for the word, INTEREST. Regardless of who’s to blame there is more than enough to go around, however my generation should not be the one to pay the price for other’s heinous and painfully obvious mistakes.

For years the American economy was being financed by debt, which created a money bubble, a dangerous false ideology that money was there that wasn’t, and that Americans could afford a fabricated standard of living far above their means. Part of what facilitated this illusion was when the government started getting rid of vocational-chartered schools and programs in our junior colleges, attempting to turn everyone into a white-collar worker. The American government has falsely propagated, that everyone has the opportunity to go to college, and so these vocational programs are no longer needed, which of course wasn’t and still is not true. It is increasingly difficult now more than ever for people to get into college in the first place, let alone being about to afford school with the annually increasing tuition at almost every college and university in America. These done-away-with schools and trade profession courses, such as computer science or automotive mechanics are now being desperately sought after or highly demanded in a time when a degree isn’t valued as much as experience or education in that trade.

What infuriates me the most is not that the beginning will be hard, what infuriates me is those graduates now, and probably for the next five years, are up against a job market that has been corrupted and destroyed by our own government and our own people. That we have to pay for the mistakes of the generations before us. And life might not be fair, but that is down right despicable. The American government has failed to monitor the affairs and proper education of it’s own country accordingly, and now it is robbing it’s youth of their hard earned right to a fruitful, successful, and prosperous future. The government is bailing out those who have made gross mistakes that have affected our country, but what about our children who haven’t made any mistakes and are paying the price? What about us? What changes is the government going to make in our society to fix these problems, what opportunities are they going to generate to make sure that jobs are available for our graduates, or that upcoming generations are properly prepared to be self sufficient.

I would like to propose that these vocational-trade schools and programs be implemented back into our society because when reading another article attached to this one, the article mentioned that the most sought after degrees were: petroleum engineering, Computer science, information sciences and systems. The article went onto say that information sciences and a system major (a major I have never heard of) has, “an average starting salary of $54,038. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field will add 155,800 jobs between 2008 and 2018, an increase of 53.4%, the second fastest growing career in the data the BLS offers and well above the average job growth for all professions of 10.1%”

Even jobs in these majors and professions were scarce. I feel that college counselors and the educational system needs to be redesigned to teach better LIFE SKILLS, and that these new majors need to be more heavily marketed to today’s youth. I feel the current majors are simply producing young professionals for a jobless market in un-needed areas of expertise. I took a stats class this year out of an obligation to fulfill my university core and learned all about interest rates, and mortgages, loans, and doing my taxes. I have seldom felt I have learned something in school that I can apply in the real world and will benefit me, and its not because I’m lazy and fail to use the knowledge bestowed me, but simply that REAL LIFE SKILLS like learning how to equate the interest rate on your home loan and avoiding the country our disaster is currently in, ARE NOT BEING TAUGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS. Now I understand colleges and universities all want to maintain a certain standard of taste in their core curriculum but what use is their for a standard curriculum that Fails To Teach us anything worthwhile in order to be SELF RELIANT.

Interestingly enough more than a century ago Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau wrote pieces such as Self-Reliance and Civil Disobedience which predicts these very problems and attempts to provide answers for them, but those answers while useful to an extent do not take into consideration the current political and economic climate today which is: it doesn’t matter if you have an outstanding degree from a major university and worked your ass off for it, you will still in the same pitiful position as the person who doesn’t, if anything the jobs you are qualified for, are already filled by those with years of experience, for life. Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for how to gain experience other than internships. Luckily I have had several, however I took it upon myself to secure those internships. My emails to my advisor were constantly ignored and I was provided little to no direction other than by the occasional interested professor. I feel that it is the responsibility of the educational system to properly educate students on the proper steps needed to gain experience – through internships and other extracurricular activities offered by the school of choice, but also I feel a change in curriculum is dire to saving our country.

Another tragic thing the article mentioned was that students, rather than facing the jobless job market today are returning to graduate school. This is great one must think, further education can never be a bad thing. I myself would LOVE to go to graduate school, however with the ridiculous escalation in tuition grad school is not an option for myself and for many, and for those who decide to take grad school, they have a life of considerable debt to look forward to.

Imagine that. The most appealing and logical option today for graduated students is to go back to school and mire themselves in our country’s already largest growing problem unplayable DEBT. With the rate of graduated students for hire right out of graduation falling by 22% last year, our chances for sustaining ourselves, not even being successful just sustaining ourselves, is looking impossible. “With such a competitive market, the biggest worry for hiring experts is that students will give up on their job search without ever starting. In some cases that means heading straight to graduate school, an investment that is only likely to pay off if students know what they want to study and why that will better position them to land a job in the future. Graduate-school enrollment rose 6% last year and will likely continue to rise this year.”

In fact students are going out of the country just to maintain and keep themselves afloat, putting their career aspirations on hold indefinitely sometimes in order to make money, “"We are seeing more students coming into the office talking about what we call the 'gap-year opportunities,' " said Rebecca Sparrow, director of Cornell University's career services, where recruiting is down slightly this year. She often directs them to programs such as AmeriCorps, Teach for America and similar alternatives.”
Let’s provide a country where our children don’t half to leave it to sustain themselves because the last time I checked this was America, not Mexico, or Russia, or Vietnam, but America. That is why people come here to create better opportunity, let’s not sabatoge ourselves as the land of opportunity, let’s work to create better opportunities for ourselves and our children. Let’s learn from our mistakes and move forward America, not repeat them and go backward.

Written By:
Christina Lo Duca


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